As I’m sure you all know by now we have an election coming. September 20th in Canada, the politicians are doing their darndest to make us all feel like their best friend attentive to every whim that we might express.
As you are probably also aware the right to repair issue was been at the forefront of a lot of political activity over the last few months. U.S. President Joe Biden recently directed their Federal Trade Commission to make it a priority, to put together a framework to make it happen.
Here in Canada, there have been a lot of moves both broadly reported on and quietly working their way through the halls of Ottawa to have right to repair elements entrenched in law. With the election, two important key bills died so, in essence, we’re starting over again.
The good news is that right to repair, access to repair information, and the rights of the car owner in regard to both of those are at a much higher profile than they were when we began with the latest set of campaigns.
But here, in the run-up to the election, is your playbook.
Here’s what you, as an aftermarket professional, should really do over the next few weeks to ensure that whoever ends up in government or in power within your own riding, understands what’s at stake with right to repair both in terms of our business, the automotive aftermarket and at large, because it of course encompasses far more than just the automotive aftermarket.
Step One: Send a letter to the candidates.
Do this as close to now as you can. If you want to step away and do that now, then do so. If you are articulate and know what to say and are comfortable communicating, that’s great. Write your own. But if not, there’s a great tool from the Automotive Industries Association of Canada to help: go to www.vehicledataaccess.AIACanada.com/takeaction.
You can plug in your own contact information and it will ensure that everybody running in the federal riding where you live will, in fact, get a copy.
Step Two: Reach out to the candidates.
Once you’ve done Step One, you’ll know, who’s running. Try to make the time to communicate directly with the leading candidates. There are a few ways to do this. You can pick up the phone and call their campaign office. If they’re having an event, try to attend. Maybe there’s an all-candidates meeting. Maybe there’s an all candidates debate. Maybe there’s an opportunity for you to ask questions. Or after a debate event, engage them in a more casual conversation over a coffee (safely, of course.). Tell them about what right to repair means for consumers, the environment, the local economy, and that lack of choice hurts all of those.
Step Three: Spread the Word.
Talk to your local groups. Maybe it’s local association, maybe it’s connected to a banner group of owners. Maybe it’s a training group that you communicate with regularly to discuss management issues.
Tell them what you’ve done, what you’re doing, and encourage them to do the same. When we all pull together, it makes for a much easier load. Being consistent and being accurate and articulate and frankly, persistent, will go a long way to ensuring that whoever is in power following the election will remember. And that’s really important.
Step Four: Vote
It seems like a no brainer here, but we all know what can happen come election time. There are lots of reasons not to vote: I’m too busy at work; I don’t like any of the candidates I feel like it doesn’t matter if I vote or not; the weather’s bad; the game was on. Maybe your car broke down. (Hey, it does happen.)
But there’s one great reason to make sure you vote: You have to have your say.
There is a second good reason in my mind: voting means you have earned the right to complain about the government. Especially if you didn’t vote for them.
Step Five: Believe
The fifth really important point is that you have to believe. You have to believe that we can win, that we can win for our customers. We can win for the customers of the cell phone shop down the road, the local economy, local businesses. This is important. It probably should have been my first point to be honest with you, but here it is: You really need to believe in right to repair and that it can get done.
It has already been a long road, but the case for wresting control away from big tech and automakers has never been stronger. It crosses all party lines, everyone benefits from more choice. And just as a little bit of inspiration, I wanted to end on a quote from an earlier conversation I had with Stuart Charity from the Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association, which just this year won it’s long battle to have right to repair enshrined in law.
“And get behind your industry associations and follow their lead. Because numbers matter. The ones who make the most noise get the most attention. Don’t think that just because this might be a difficult issue that that’s a reason for not doing it. It’s essential and everyone makes a difference. It’s amazing at how many key points along the way where workshops, their interventions and their actions have created opportunities for us. So it’s really important. This is a kind of defining moment, I think, for industries to really band together and work on collectively making change.”